Death To Pumpkin Spice

Nathan Phuong, Writer

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For the denizens of Indiana, autumn approaches, and with it the reek of that dreaded musk, pumpkin spice. Yes, that caffeinated boon to Starbucks stock valuations, that sweet insult to New World harvests and Indian Silk Road travelers from epochs long past, that pernicious standard-bearer of winter’s hoary onslaught falls like plague or Prague on Fort Wayne streets. Let the credit cards swipe their quick magnetic stripes away, and Macbook Airs yawn open on faux-wood tables. The $6 pastries are to the bottom right of the cash register. So let us one and all storm the fetid underworld of Snapchat to marvel at the millennials sipping flavored coffee there, or allow that we push stories of societal breakdown at home and abroad to the bottoms of our Instagram feeds, so long as we can smirk one last smile at the lady in green with arms upraised, the deceit of pumpkin still on our tongues as tall paper cups drum against the bottoms of trash cans like so many bombshells.

From pumpkin spice Febreeze (the scented screams of pumpkin youths spritzed directly into the confines of your home) and hand soap (lather your palms in the innards of a class of brutally oppressed jack-o-lanterns) to pumpkin spice dish soap (scrubs oil from your dirty plates as fast as neurons from your brain matter) and bar soap (“get spicy in the shower!”), the flavor is as overdressed as a Thanksgiving turkey. Pumpkin spice hummus shakes or Greek yogurt – to name a few – round out the collection.

Consumption of the drink itself falls somewhere between the cinnamon challenge and cheap essential oils, but significantly more harmful to one’s health with an average of 50 grams of sugar per cup-serving. Moreover, pumpkin spice foods generally contain little to no actual pumpkin matter; the natural produce is too pulpy and variable in terms of taste to efficiently incorporate into mass-produced snack lines. Instead, cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol, terpene, sabinene, and zingiberene compounds ‘code for’ cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger notes, respectively. But these latent chemical ingredients only make themselves known with thorough heating, which adds that character- istic ‘caramelized’ taste and makes pumpkin spice the best-marketed carcinogen in American history.

In large quantities, the beverage may even be hazardous to pets, with the web-based ‘Pet Poison Hotline’ suggesting a call there “if you suspect your pet has been exposed to the potential toxin.”

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